23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
I received one of those marketing emails this morning that had an odd subject line. “Make Them Thankful”, it said. They expounded upon it by saying that customer service should be guided by the Golden Rule. Treat your customers as you would want to be treated. Then, it went on to give a real live example of someone who cared and went above and beyond to help out a customer with a problem and how thankful they were to finally have someone on their side.
Hopefully, we are fully aware of the need to be thankful towards God, but what about towards other human beings? Should we act and treat others in a way that makes them thankful for our actions?
You know, the answer to this should seem obvious, and perhaps that is why I have never, and I do mean never, have heard a message on this particular aspect of this topic. Intuitively, it would seem obvious, yet when I view the actions of others at times, and to my shame even my own behavior at times, it becomes obvious that this is a topic that should be brought to the forefront of our consciousness.
Gratitude Towards God
Again, it should be obvious that we need to give God the thanks first and foremost. However, just in case it isn’t to someone out there, here are a couple of Bible verses that encourage exactly that:
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Gratitude really is just one facet of love, and, like love, if we do not offer it first to God, then all other application will suffer.
Gratitude Towards Each Other
Interestingly, there is no direct command in the New Testament to give thanks to each other. Perhaps that is just a cultural thing, however. I do believe that there is sufficient precedent for doing so.
Paul’s letters often expressed thanks, but they were to God for a particular congregation or group of people.
2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,
I believe Paul did this intentionally in order to keep the focus upon God. However, if that were all there were to it, why mention it at all unless he wanted to show them gratitude in some form, even though indirect? It makes no sense to mention it at all if he were only interested in thanking God, after all.
Furthermore, there are the many instructions Paul gave to submit to one another, edifiy one another and comfort one another. When you say, “Thank you,” you are letting that person know they are doing something that is appreciated. They are building that person up.
Here is a list of just a few of the verses (in the ESV) on edification (click on them to view them):
You know, it just seems obvious to me that if we love God, we will give Him thanks. Likewise, if we love other people, we will thank them as appropriate. It is just a part of showing love, at the very least. More to the point, shouldn’t the Christian walk be one filled with gratitude?
So, while it isn’t a direct command, does it have to be? It should naturally flow from a life and attitude of gratitude. If nothing else points out the importance of gratitude, perhaps the story of the Ten Lepers in Luke 17:11-19 should remind us of it. What sticks out isn’t the fact that ten lepers were healed but that only one returned to give thanks. Think about it a little more, though. They obviously had heard of Jesus, and they were obviously aware that He was a rabbi. There was no indication they understood that He was God in the flesh or even the Son of God. Yet, when the one, who was a Samaritan at that, returned to give thanks, you can almost hear the pain in Jesus’ voice when He asks how it is that only one — a foreigner — returns to give thanks.
When we give thanks to the brethren, we are giving thanks to the Creator.
42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
~ Mt 10:42
Developing the Mind of Christ
All in all, we should want to do things because we should want to develop the mind of Christ. Can we really read though the Psalms or Isaiah without coming away with the feeling that God is a God of mercy, kindness and edification? How many times did God comfort Joshua before entering the Promised Land? In fact, how many times did his predecessor Moses require comforting when he was brought to the breaking point?
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Christ acted as the agent of God the Father, often called the Angel of the Lord, in the OT, so a lot of those OT comfort passages were really His words! Jesus Himself gave comfort to His disciples during His time on earth:
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Here’s something to chew on: Does God expect us to give Him thanks simply because, or does He expect it because He truly does things worthy of praise and thanks?
Because, if we are to become like God, and if the truth is the latter, then we should be doing things that make others thankful for us being around. So, in one sense the marketing flyer was correct about making people we come into contact with give thanks.
Obviously, in this world we cannot expect gratitude for things we do, and we need to be careful believing that we “deserve” any thanks. However, if we expend reasonable effort that should be appreciated, we should realize we have done the right thing.
Perhaps viewing the opposite will help keep thin in perspective. What is the opposite of allowing Christ’s light to shine through us? What is it we want to avoid?
24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
~ Ro 2:24